1895-1963 Wanda Hawley Co-Star “The Young Rajah”


To wrap up our week, Wanda Hawley was a co-star of the movie “The Young Rajah” that starred Rudolph Valentino. But what do we really know about her? Wanda was born on 30 Jul 1895, in Scranton, PA. Her real name was Selma Wanda Pittach. Athough it is noted in Photoplay Magazine, circa 1918, her name was changed to Wanda Hawley. Wanda was a classically trained Opera Singer but found that acting paid better and felt that was more of her calling. It is claimed by Paramount Pictures Publicity Department that she was discovered by Cecil B. Demille. Wanda Hawley began her screen career years before meeting DeMille, and had appeared under the screen name Wanda Petit opposite both Tom Mix and William S. Hart, and played Douglas Fairbanks Jr.’s love interest in “Mr. Fix-It” in 1918. But DeMille made her a star in “Affairs of Anatol,” with Wallace Reid and Gloria (“I’m ready for my closeup, Mr. DeMille”) Swanson in 1921. It is noted, her best years were when she was under contract to Paramount Studios.


At the height of her career she received the same amount of mail as Gloria Swanson another famous silent film star who was Rudolph Valentino’s co-star in “Beyond the Rocks” She never made the transition to talking pictures. Falling on hard times, she reportedly worked as a call-girl in San Francisco during the Great Depression years of the early 1930s. She died in 1963 and is buried at Hollywood Forever Cemetery.


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